May 28, 2023

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Valery Gergiev's faces removed from the podium because of Putin's support

Valery Gergiev’s faces removed from the podium because of Putin’s support

after a day was dropped From concerts at Carnegie Hall, Russian maestro Valery Gergiev on Friday faced growing outrage over his record in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with many of Europe’s leading institutions – including the Munich Philharmonic, headed by Mr. Gergiev. Threatening to cut ties with him unless he denounces Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The fallout, which included Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, was a rare rebuke of the classical music industry giant, and reflected growing global outrage over Mr. Putin’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.

Mr. Gergiev, 68, one of Russia’s most prominent cultural ambassadors, is now being overlooked because of his ties to Mr. Putin, his old friend and benefactor. He appears to be in danger of losing several key positions, including the podium in Munich and his position as honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter issued an ultimatum on Friday, saying Mr. Gergiev must condemn Putin’s “brutal aggressive war against Ukraine” before Monday or be expelled by the orchestra, three years before his contract expires.

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra progress A similar warning threatens to cancel the “Gergiev Festival” scheduled for September. Teatro alla Scala in Milan said Mr. Gergiev would be excluded from upcoming performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” and other engagements if he did not call for peace immediately.

Mr. Gergiev did not respond to requests for comment from the New York Times.

The uproar was a major blow to Mr. Gergiev, who built a busy international career while maintaining deep ties to the Russian state, including his role as general manager and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg.

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Mr. Putin has been crucial to Mr. Gergiev’s success, providing funding for his theater and showering him with awards. Mr. Gergiev has emerged as a prominent supporter of Mr. Putin, supporting his re-election and appearing at concerts in Russia and abroad to promote his policies. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Putin was in charge in Saint Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev was beginning his tenure as leader of the Mariinsky, then called Kirov.

Western cultural institutions have largely looked beyond Mr. Gergiev’s ties to Mr. Putin, even as the conductor has become the target of frequent protests over the past decade, at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine this week has put new pressure on arts leaders to reconsider their relations with Mr. Gergiev. After a hastily arranged meeting on Thursday morning, Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic announced that Mr. Gergiev would no longer lead the orchestra for three high-profile concerts beginning Friday night. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who was due to perform with Mr. Gergiev and the Philharmonic on Friday, and who has expressed support for Mr Putin’s policies in the past, was also excluded from the programme.

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s chief executive and technical director, who has said in the past that Mr. Gergiev should not be punished for his political views, said in an interview Friday that he and Philharmonic came to the conclusion that it was “indefensible” for Mr. Gergiev and Mr. Matsuev to perform because of their relations with Mr. Putin.

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“We all felt that this situation is changing the world, unfortunately,” he said, referring to the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr. Jellinson said there were no changes yet to Mr. Gergiev’s planned appearance at the Carnegie End in May with the Mariinsky Orchestra. Mr. Gergiev and Mr. Matsuev have also been excluded from concerts next week in Naples, Florida, with the Vienna Orchestra, whose president recently said on Sunday that Mr. Gergiev was a talented artist and would take the stage on Carnegie dates.

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“He’s an instrumentalist, not a politician,” Daniel Froschauer, the head of the orchestra, said in an interview with the New York Times afterward.

The Vienna Philharmonic issued a statement Friday saying it stands against “all forms of aggression and war”. He did not refer to Mr. Gergiev or Mr. Matsuev.

The attack on Ukraine prompted Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano who is one of the biggest opera stars, to cancel a show she was due to give. Friday night in Denmark With her husband, Tenor Yusif Aivazov.